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Professor John Betteridge obituary

The Royal Society of Medicine is saddened to report the death of Professor John Betteridge, Dean of the Royal Society of Medicine from 2010 to 2015.

John Betteridge was a highly respected physician and an international expert on cholesterol, hyperlipidaemia and cardiovascular disease prevention. As RSM Dean he was responsible for expanding the RSM’s Medicine & Me programme and the public engagement talks.

Born in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, John Betteridge was educated at the Boys’ Grammar School. He went on to study medicine at King’s College and Guy’s Hospital, where he gained first class honours in biochemistry. After qualifying in 1972 and initial medical training he undertook research in cholesterol metabolism at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, obtaining his MD in 1979. His research into platelet function in diabetes led to a PhD in 1985.

Appointed consultant physician at the Middlesex Hospital, he then became Professor of Endocrinology and Metabolism at University College Hospital, where he undertook extensive educational programmes updating knowledge of lipids, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease prevention in primary and secondary care.

As well as helping direct a number of major diabetes cardiovascular outcome studies, he was on the steering committee for the MRC UK Prospective Diabetes Study of glucose and blood pressure control and a member of the Grants Committee of the British Heart Foundation.

He joined the Royal Society of Medicine in 1982, going on to become President of the Lipids, Metabolism and Vascular Risk Section. Appointed Associate Dean of the RSM in 2008, he became Dean in 2010, responsible for developing and overseeing the RSM’s educational programme.

At the RSM, John was the driving force behind the Medicine & Me programme. Providing an outline of current best practice for the treatment of important conditions, Medicine & Me meetings give direct voice to patients and their carers, enabling them to discuss their concerns and reflections with healthcare professionals on the impact of diagnosis, investigation and management.

With a passion for widening the reach of healthcare knowledge to more audiences, he was also responsible for expanding the RSM’s public engagement programme and the schools programme, which focused on introducing school students to a career in medicine.

He was a natural-born communicator who lectured all over the world. Interested in everyone and everything, he was always great fun to be with.

President-Elect of the RSM, Professor Roger Kirby said: “I knew John as a true friend and as an outstanding colleague; he was a natural-born communicator who lectured all over the world. Interested in everyone and everything, he was always great fun to be with. His exceptional contributions to the treatment of patients with diabetes are legendary.

“While Dean at the RSM he played an important role in improving the knowledge and understanding of complex medical issues among the general public. Through his extensive networks he played a key role in attracting a number of stellar candidates to deliver a great many of the eponymous lectures that the RSM is justly famous for. We will miss him badly, and our sincere condolences go out to his family.”

John was an active part of the patient charities The Family Heart Association and the British Hyperlipidaemia Association, and after their merger he was subsequently a chair of the national cholesterol charity HEART UK. With the charity he worked hard for better recognition of familial hypercholesterolaemia which causes premature cardiovascular disease in 0.4% of the population if untreated.

Coming from a musical family, music played an important part throughout his life as did his garden where he grew his own vegetables. His other hobbies included cricket, shooting and fly fishing. Despite illness limitation in the last years he still managed lake fishing from a boat.

John was delighted in the last year to manage to walk his daughter down the aisle at her marriage.

He leaves his wife, Chris Martin, a general practitioner; and two children Tom and Sally.

John Betteridge (b 1948) died from a sacral chordoma on 4 October 2019.

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